Lowell firefighters in wetsuits place an unidentified woman into a gurney in the Merrimack Canal before hoisting her to safety Friday morning. From left are Lt. Christopher Ryder, firefighter William Corey and Lt. Jason Gauvreau. The woman, who was submerged in the freezing water up to her chest for about 40 minutes, was seen jumping into the canal at about 8 a.m. (sun/john collins)
LOWELL -- A 911 caller, police and fire personnel teamed up to save the life of an apparently suicidal woman who witnesses spotted jumping into the icy canal below the intersection of Thorndike and Dutton Streets on Friday morning.
The woman, who was sitting in freezing water up to her chest with her back against a wall of the canal under the bridge, did not respond to the first arriving police officer and firefighters' attempts to toss her a life ring attached to a cord.
She was rescued by two Lowell firefighters who donned wetsuits and descended into the water using a ladder before placing the woman into a gurney and lifting her to the road and a waiting ambulance at 8:45.
The woman, who was conscious throughout the ordeal, could be heard by dozens of spectators shouting "No!" several times during the course of the rescue. In total, the woman spent a total of about 40 minutes partially submerged in the freezing canal water. Her condition was not immediately known.
Both firefighters who spent time submerged in the water while effecting the rescue were also placed immediately into a waiting ambulance after stripping off their wetsuits and wet uniform clothing underneath and transported to the hospital for treatment.
Kenny Blyth, a contractor from Sandown, N.H.., said he was working nearby when he saw the woman step off the railing and plunge into the canal below, causing him to call 911.
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